The 1.6bn-euro ocean road making waves on Réunion

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Plans to build a new road on viaducts and massive seawalls around the coast of the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion have caused a major controversy. The 1.6-billion-euro project faces a preliminary legal investigation for possible corruption and favouritism and is under fire for its impact on the environment, while financial watchdogs also warn the scheme risks facing a significant funding shortfall. Julien Sartre reports.

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It is a project of staggering expense. A new road on the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion linking two towns just 12 kilometres apart is set to cost at least 1.6 billion euros. That works out as around 130 million euros per kilometre of road, compared with the standard cost of building a motorway which is about 2 million euros per kilometre. But the reason for the huge discrepancy in price is simple: this new road is being built not on the land but on the ocean.